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Carbonless vs. Thermal Paper: Everything You need to Know About Receipt Paper - POSpaper.com

Carbonless vs. Thermal Paper: Everything You need to Know About Receipt Paper

When you wake up in the morning, receipt paper is probably far from the first thing on your mind. However, if you run a business, receipt paper can be important when it comes to customer convenience and keeping track of records. The two most popular types of receipt paper are carbonless receipt paper and thermal receipt paper. Let’s compare the two. 

What is Carbonless Paper?

Carbonless paper is made from wood pulp and features a two-ply design. The back of the top sheet of paper is coated in an encapsulated ink or dye that is transferred from the top to the bottom when pressure is applied. 

3" x 95' 2-Ply Carbonless Paper (50 rolls/case) - White / Canary


What is Thermal Receipt Paper?

Thermal receipt paper is also produced from wood pulp; however, it does not feature a two-ply design or ink. Instead, it is coated with several layers of different chemicals and dyes. These dyes allow the paper to change color when exposed to heat, creating a design. 

3 1/8" x 230' Thermal Paper (50 rolls/case) -- BPA Free


What are the Major Differences?

When comparing carbonless paper to thermal receipt paper, there are a number of major differences including the following. 

Color & Coating

One of the most noticeable differences is the color and surface of the paper. In terms of color, carbonless receipt paper typically comes in either white, pink, or yellow. Meanwhile, thermal receipt paper is almost always white. 

In terms of coating, both types employ several coatings. However, thermal receipt paper will have more of a smooth, bright surface that is able to create sharp images and words when exposed to heat. 

Printing Ribbons

Carbonless paper requires the use of a standard printing ribbon. This applies pressure and ink to the paper. The ink creates an image on the top page while the pressure creates the image on the second. Depending on the amount of pressure, the second image may be of good or medium quality. 

Thermal receipt paper does not use a traditional printing ribbon. The printer for this type of paper also has fewer working parts, meaning there is little maintenance expense. Instead, the printer utilizes heat to create easy-to-read words and images. 

Epson ERC 30/34/38 Printer Ribbons (6 per box) - Black/Red


Speed & Accuracy

A significant difference between the two types of POS paper is speed. Thermal receipt paper can be printed very quickly. Despite using heat, the paper is able to be handled immediately after printing. It allows for the creation of even highly complex images very quickly while carbonless paper takes longer to print, and the second copy can smear. 

Thermal paper is highly accurate as the printers can apply heat to very specific areas. This technology tends to make it have better images than carbonless paper.

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